5 Customer Success Platform Must-Haves
Haresh Gangwani, CEO of Bolstra
When 20 percent of existing customers account for 80 percent of your future revenue, it’s vital to keep them engaged and satisfied. While this may fall under the label of ‘Customer Relationship Management’ at your organization, many organizations are now referring to this function as ‘Customer Success.’ Customer Success Management entails much more than checking in with a customer periodically to see if they have questions or issues with your solution. It’s a process which is dedicated to delivering continuous value to customers. Increasingly, this process is being supported with platforms designed specifically for enabling your best Customer Success practices.
Operationalizing customer success with a platform that not only helps reduce churn, but also facilitates an increase in Annual Recurring Revenues (ARR) is an investment in your future as a XaaS provider. There are several customer success platforms on the market now, and figuring out what works best in your organization is challenging. I’ve spent some time understanding the offerings, and have identified five things you should look for when evaluating a solution to support your Customer Success efforts:
Agile Workflow Management
The agile approach is being adopted in ways well beyond software development. As a methodology in which teams are incrementally building relationships, consistently reevaluating the efficacy of processes, increasing flexibility and reducing wasted time, the agile approach is a perfect fit for the work management of customer success. To help CSMs continually provide a superior client experience, a customer success platform must itself be agile to compliment the agile nature of the CSMs work.
Cross-Functional Data Access
While it’s ideal that all of customer data is housed in one place, that’s not typically the case. Most organizations have sales data in one CRM, contract and financials in another system, and marketing data in yet another. This is far from ideal. A customer success solution should integrate all customer data from every resource. This provides a 360° current and historic view of customers for every person who deals with an account.
When did an account launch? Who is the main point of contact? When was the last touchpoint and what was it about? When is the contract up for renewal? These are all vital questions that your customer success platform should be able to answer easily. Customer Success Managers should not need to go hunting to find a full history of an account.
Time Tracking Capability to Use for Capacity Planning
Tracked time is vital data to use in planning and forecasting around account load and employee efficiency. Spreadsheets, be gone! There’s nothing more inefficient than using a spreadsheet for your employees as a time tracker for capacity planning. A great CSM platform will do this for you, with a tool for employees to track effort and a dashboard for managers to view time spent on tasks and accounts. Ideally, a platform will track duration and actual time spent on an account and an activity.
Ease of Entry and Functionality
If your CSM platform is not user-friendly, it’s likely that company-wide adoption will suffer. How intuitive and easy are the platforms you saw demoed? If you found them difficult to use and disconnected, then your employees will likely feel the same way, and will resist adoption. You’ll need to have team-wide buy-in to truly get the most out of a customer success solution. A recent CIO article echoes my perspective on a great user experience stating, “Without a good UX, software users are unlikely to adopt the software, or they'll use it unwillingly. Poor software adoption can negatively impact the KPIs the organization aimed to improve in the first place.”
Companies that have buy-in from executives for a customer success solution need to properly evaluate the platforms available to ensure the best possible fit for their organizations. Attributes that make a stand-out solution include agile workflow management, cross-functional data access, historical perspective, time tracking capability, and ease of entry/functionality. Our customers have seen a 15 percent average increase in customer lifetime value by implementing such a platform — a statistic that reinforces the value that customer success brings when chartered along with a great platform.